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The Communicators

News/Business. People who shape the digital future.

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TOPIC FREQUENCY

Barton 6, Markey 5, Usf 5, America 4, Texas 4, Howard Buskirk 3, Joe Barton 3, Arlington 3, Afghanistan 2, Sec 2, Romney 2, Walden 2, Genachowski 2, Upton 2, Us 2, U.s. 2, Then-congressman 1, Danville 1, Waxman 1, California 1,
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  CSPAN    The Communicators    News/Business. People who  
   shape the digital future.  

    September 17, 2012
    8:00 - 8:30am EDT  

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>> those are just some of the authors this you at the national book festival so join booktv on c-span2 next weekend. >> you've been watching booktv, 48 hours of programming beginning saturday morning at 8 a.m. each of their monday morning at 8 a.m. if you. nonfiction books all weekend every weekend right here on c-span2. .. >> also the vice presidential candidates' debate thursday,
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october 11th, from center college in danville, kentucky, live on c-span, c-span ride owe and online -- radio and online at c-span.org. >> host: well, joining us this week on "the communicators" is representative joe barton, a republican from texas, former chairman of the energy and commerce committee and currently co-chair of the congressional privacy caucus. representative barton, in the few days and then lame duck session of the 112th congress, do you foresee any actions on the issues of privacy being handled? >> guest: i have asked chairman upton of the energy and commerce committee to consider moving the do not track kids online privacy bill that congressman markey and i have introduced. i don't have a commitment for him to do that, but that bill is a possible, especially in the lame duck.
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in the regular session, we're probably not going to have that many more legislative days. so if we had one bill, though, that would -- that's the one i've asked the chairman to consider moving. >> host: would you like to see more comprehensive privacy legislation considered and passed by congress? >> guest: i would. i think the public is ahead of the congress on privacy, and i think, you know, companies like microsoft and some of of those guys are ahead. i mean, they're building in their default positions. they have more and more privacy. but in the congress we're still, in my opinion, a little bit behind the curve although we gained a lot of ground in this congress. our privacy caucus in the house that chairman, former subcommittee chairman markey has co-chaired with me, republican/democrat, we have got i think 30 members, so not quite
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10% of the house. so we, you know, that's a sizable number, and it's bipartisan, about half and half, half republican, of half democrat. >> host: also joining us this week on "the communicators" is howard buskirk. >> host: let me ask about privacy, tell me where that issue has resonated with you. >> guest: well, you know, we have the tea party now, and they're real big on a strict interpretation of the constitution, but i was tea party before there was a tea party, and i think the fourth amendment can be construed to be a privacy amendment, the right against search and seizure in your home without due process, and i strongly think that, you know, the privacy protections that our founders took for granted in the internet
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telecommunication age you can't take for granted. you've got to legislate them to make it happen. but the short answer to your question is i just feel very strongly that the information about yourself is yours unless there is a law enforcement reason or or some overwhelming public good reason to go around that price screen. previous -- privacy screen. >> i wanted to ask you, we've just celebrated or commemorated the 11th anniversary of the september 11th attacks. public safety locks like it's going to get a broadband network, the first approved by congress in february. are you satisfied where things are right now as far as first responder communications? does more need to be done? what do you think's the status right now? >> guest: well, it shouldn't have taken ten years to get it, apparently, really going. but i do think the current law, the new law that we passed that's result inside this first
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net -- resulted in this first net is conceptually excellent. i think the proof's in the puddle, and the board hasn't met yet. they don't meet until september the 25th, the first board meeting. but if everything works like it's supposed to, hopefully, within four or five years we'll have an interop o rabble first -- interoperable first responder network throughout the entire country, and that definitely will be a good thing. >> host: is it something you're going to be watching closely? do you have any remaining questions about where first net is? >> guest: well, i potentially have a lot of questions, but i have to give them the benefit of the doubt. let's see what they do. but if they follow the law and they don't have a lot of bureaucracy about getting the networks up and running, i'll be with you. >> host: the republican platform that was approved at the convention put an unusual amount
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of emphasis on internet freedom, spectrum. it was much more detailed than what some to have previous platforms had been, and i'm just wondering what does that -- how does that bode for a romney administration if governor romney is elected in the fall? >> guest: step one is to win the election. [laughter] you know, it's all a hypothetical now. you know, i'm one of the original supporters of what you just said is internet freedom, you know, and the mistitle net neutrality regulations of the fcc is promulgated i don't think are necessary. i think if you have an aggressive open market with reasonable guidelines which the fcc had adopted before they adopted their net neutrality principles, i think that's more than sufficient. and i go back on, oh, 10 or 15 years ago on the committee, the energy and commerce committee, where we, you know, chris cox
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who later became chairman of the sec, securities and exchange commission, he and i put an amendment in that is current law today that you can't tax the internet. so i'm, you know, more information, more accessible, more transparent is better for democracy, and, you know, i haven't studied the republican platform what they've done, but if it's as you say it is, i think that's a good thing. >> host: well, congressman barton, you mentioned taxing the internet, and that's an issue that seems to be popping back up. do you foresee action on maybe potentially taxing? >> guest: i think, i think there is an issue as there are more internet sales. and if you have a sales tax in a state, the brick and mortar store collects a sales tax on a transaction within a store, but that same consumer if it buys the same product over the
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internet, it's not a sure thing that there will be a sales tax collected. so i think that's an issue where people like me who don't want any taxation of the internet could reasonably support the collection of a local sales tax. but other than that i'm still no taxes, no transaction tax, no user tax just to get on the internet. >> host: what about reallocating the usf from telephones to broadband. >> guest: well, i, i am very much supportive of true universal service reform. and up and including abolishing the universal service fund, you know, the america of the 1930s where you had to have something like a universal service fund to
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get telephone service into rural america is a totally different america than the america of today where almost everybody in the country has a cell phone or an iphone or an ipad, and we have multiple service providers in the wireless, you know, 3g and 4g networks. i see no real reason for the universal service fund as it was originally construed, and it's debatable if you need it at all. i understand those that represent rural districts that want to use universal service fund to get broadband into their areas. when the issue came up last time in the energy and commerce committee, then-congressman, now-senator roy blunt of missouri offered some amendments
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to require that we provide if you're going to do broadband universal service fund, that you provide it to unserved areas before you provide it to underserved areas. and that amendment was defeated. so to my mind, it does show a little bit of the hypocrisy of the concept. >> host: howard buskirk. >> host: usf, though, the telecommunications act, the telecom act does require the fcc to have the usf, so is that something you would favor changing the law -- >> guest: possibly. i mean, i just, again, i don't want to regurgitate, but, you know, reasonable people can debate whether we needed a universal service fund 70 years ago, and the affirmative won the case then, and it may have been necessary. you have a tough time making that case today. i mean, if you choose to live in some remote area, you don't have
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an entitlement to broadband, you don't have an entitlement. you might argue that you need a landline telephone and, again, prior to wireless and all we have today in satellites, but i don't think you can make that argument to use the usf for broadband in rural areas. it's not a necessity, it's a nicety. >> host: have you been following the changes that the sec's made to the usf over the last couple years? >> guest: yeah. from a reform standpoint, i'd say progress is being made, and some of the caps and some of the things that they've done are a step in the right direction. >> host: and in texas you came up when they were sort of talking about contribution reform which is sort of the next -- and it's a republican commissioner who'd been urging, you know, to move toward contribution reform which would be broadening --
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>> guest: i'm saying, again, anything that moves towards reform i'm supportive of. it's the political support in rural -- especially in the senate where you've got two senators from each state. if you come from a largely rural state, a tough, tough thing to get real reform through the senate. >> host: now, congressman barton, i want to return to privacy, and i want to talk about social media for a minute. >> guest: okay. >> host: does your do not track kids bill, is that centered around social media, and why just children? why not adults as well? >> guest: well, it goes to one of your questions about a comprehensive privacy bill. the easier political possibility is protect children, there's no debate that you should protect children. i mean, there's not any
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republican or democrat, subset of the caucuses that doesn't want to protect the privacy of children on the internet. so it's a, it's a no-brainer. so congressman markey and i chose children's privacy because we thought that would be the way to get the ball rolling to the a bigger bill. and as i said, there's still a chance we could do that children's privacy bill in a lame duck session of this congress. it's not a done deal, but it's a possibility. but would it be really hard to get something through the house and to the senate and to the president's desk? >> guest: well, in a normal n a normal sense to answer that, yes, but when there's really no controversy, once you get on the track that's the kind of bill that could move very quickly and could be done very quickly and still put on the -- i'm not saying it will be, but it
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certainly could be. >> host: you mentioned net neutrality, internet freedom. right now there is a net neutrality order that was imposed by the fcc in december 2010. >> guest: voted to repeal -- >> host: exactly. and you haven't been silent about expressing your displeasure with that. >> guest: no. >> host: the fcc said this week that it's actually been helpful, and it's kept the internet free -- >> guest: what's been helpful? >> host: the net neutrality rules. you disagree with that? >> guest: how hard is it to pat yourself on the back for something that wasn't necessary? i mean, you know, i don't put much credibility in their patting themselves on the back. i don't think it's, i don't think they've done much harm with it, but i don't think it's necessary, i don't think it's done any good. i couldn't point to any example of something that was not done because of it that would have been done that would have infringed on the use of the internet.
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>> host: do you see that as something that's going to stay sort of the law of the land, or do you think there'll be more efforts to overturn that? >> guest: depends on who wins the election? >> host: so you think that's something the romney administration might revoke? >> guest: i think if you had a republican house, senate and president, again, i haven't chaired with chairman upton and subcommittee chairman walden, but i believe it's reasonable to assume we'd move a repeal bill and that majority leader mcconnell would be favorable and that a president romney would be favorable. but, again, when you don't count your legislative victories before you actually have elective victories in november. >> host: that's a lot of stuff that has to happen. >> guest: yes, sir. and we respect the will of the people to make those decisions, i do. >> host: representative barton, next week on "the communicators," we're going to be talking with julie brill of the ftc and mary bono mack about apps and the new guidelines that
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the ftc came up with when it comes to privacy. are guidelines enough when it comes to protecting privacy, or would you favor more of a -- >> guest: i would favor a more definitive legislative, statutory approach. but i'm not opposed of what these guidelines are and what the ftc -- i think the ftc has done very well in trying to do within their scope as much as they could for privacy. i don't -- i'm not negative on what the ftc's done at all. >> host: well, speaking of government agencies, what's your grade for fcc chairman genachowski's leadership and the fcc in general? >> guest: well, chairman genachowski is a very bright person, he's very intelligent, he's very hard working. i think he's, i think he does his homework. i don't agree with his philosophy. i think it's too regulatory, i think he has tried to stretch
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some of these older laws in ways that fit a political purpose of president obama who he's very close to personally. so i don't agree with him on his philosophy. but in terms of just intellect and integrity, i have a very high opinion of him. >> host: as a senior member of the commerce, energy and commerce committee, have you had much interaction with the chairman other than just at hearings? has he been up to see you? >> guest: he's available, he's accessible. he's been by to visit me several times. we've traded phone -- not traded, but we've had several phone conversations. he and the other commissioners have always been willing to visit with me when necessary. i don't abuse that. this is not a telecommunications congress. the committee has done a number of hearings, subcommittee chairman walden, i think, has
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done a very good job in moving what can be moved and doing oversight on the various aspects of the industry. but legislatively this is not an act of this congress in telecommunications. >> host: well, you know, a couple years ago there was a lot of talk about the need for a telecom act rewrite, and there was a lot of focus on that, you know, and we're not hearing much about that right now. [inaudible] >> host: yeah. what forces are out there s there anything that could sort of reengage congress that you could -- >> guest: well, no crisis. but, you know, the reform telco act is 1996. you know, a number of years ago. most of the players in that -- subcommittee chairman jack fields, full committee chairman tom buyly, john dingell's still there and markey, waxman, they're all still around. but most of the principals have
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retired. and, of course, the industry a a -- the industry is significantly different. for all intelligents and purposes, there -- intelligents and purposes -- intents and purposes there wasn't an internet to speak of, and cell phones were big box phones and stuff. of course, the ipad was still a figment of somebody's imagination. so today there's not, there are, there is nobody in america who doesn't have some sort of a mobile telecommunication device if they want it. now, there are people who don't use them, but, you know, when there are more cellular phones than hard line phones, you know, the world has changed. and you can make a strong intellectual case that we need to have a revisit of all the telecommunications acts and, you know, we're still operating in some cases in regulatory fashion
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under laws that were passed in the 1930s. >> host: as a follow-up question to that, we used to cover the energy industry, and it took a long time to get an energy title through, and by the time finally something got passed, everything had changed in the energy industry, and it dealt with a whole bunch of different issues. how hard is it for congress to hit a moving target like telecom and pass legislation that might end up doing more harm than good if. >> guest: it's difficult, but it's supposed to be difficult. the good news is it's not impossible. where you really need is some sense of commonality across the political spectrum of what the problems are so that then you can work on solutions. when the country identifies a problem and there's, you know, liberals in california are on the same page as conservatives in texas, congress can find a deal. what we have in this congress
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not just on telecommunications but on all the issues almost, we don't agree on problem identification. you know? is -- most democrats don't think spending is a problem. you know? and, you know, most republicans on the health care issue, the obama administration and people like congressman waxman and dingell in the house, you know, they really want universal coverage. republicans didn't think coverage was a big issue, we thought cost was. so if you don't agree on problem identification, you're not going to agree on problem solution. and the country is, you know, when the country gets consensus, then the congress can find consensus. so i'm -- the next congress, you know, on the bigger, some of the bigger social issues, we almost have to begin to try to define
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solutions. and on telecommunications it's not in a crisis, but you could make a really good case this would be the time to reform some of the basic structure. >> host: representative barton, when it comes to another issue that's been out there for the past year, so cybersecurity, bring us up-to-date, if you would, on your thought process and what you think about the president perhaps doing an executive order. >> guest: well, cybersecurity i give the intelligence committee in the house, the chairman's mike rodgers of michigan, he's done an excellent job of trying to identify a problem and put together a solution matrix. but where i think cybersecurity has not been quite as robust as it needs to be is that we really didn't think about the personal pryce aspect of it -- privacy aspect of it. and is, you know,s i think that's one reason the bill
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hasn't gone anywhere in the senate. if we can address some of these privacy issues, we really need to do a cybersecurity bill. i think it's problematic, it's going to get done in this congress, but hope friday we could build on -- hopefully we could build on it and get something done in the next congress. >> host: howard buskirk. >> host: i wanted to ask about the spectrum which is a big issue, and everybody's talking about wireless now. the administration laid out a plan to try to get 500 megahertz of new spectrum for wireless broadband in ten years, but so far has made relatively little progress on that, very little's been announced. what kind of report card would you give the administration right now as far as how they're doing in identifying and making more spectrum available for wireless broadband? >> guest: oh, i'd give 'em an incomplete, you know? the fact that they acknowledge something that needs to be done is a good thing. it's hard to do these, as you
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well know. people that have spectrum regardless of how efficiently they're using them, they seldom want to give it up whether it's in the private sector or in the public sector. and then trying to get an agreement on how to auction off or allocate spectrum that's being unused is never easy because it is such a valuable commodity that the people that want to use it, you know, try to position themselves both in the marketplace and politically so they get first choice at it. so it's not an easy thing to do. the good news is that the market has, what spectrum it has, is really providing lots of products and lots of choices to american consumers to use, and, again, you know, who would have dreamed these 4g networks even five or six years ago? >> host: and there's the auction
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that will be scheduled that was in the spectrum legislation that was approved in this february that will be where broadcasters will have a chance to sell some of their airwaves. i'm wondering what does your gut tell you? do you think that's going to be successful? [laughter] >> guest: you know, i don't know if i even want to speculate because that's a tough one. the traditional broadcast market at the local level has probably had a tougher time of it than almost anybody in the telecommunications industry the last 10 or 15 years. i think that's going to be a purely economic decision on a case-by-case basis. you know, each local station decides whether it's better to -- is it to keep it and try to get value out of curve or future uses -- current or future uses or whether to let it go and monetize that, you know? and i just can't speculate.
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>> host: what about the government's ownership or management of spectrum and not putting that into play as well? >> guest: well, almost by definition you would assume that the spectrum the government uses is the least efficiently used because the government it's a free good, and it's allocated, i mean, i would have to say with the best of intentions not allocated in the most efficient fashion. it's allocated more what the reality of the political situation, the various agencies at the time of that allocation. so i don't have a solution on how to reallocate it and reprioritize its use, but at some point in time that almost inevitably has to happen. >> host: and finally, congressman barton, i wanted to ask about domestic drones. is that something that the privacy caucus is concerned with and looking into?
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>> guest: you know, it's -- they're so new that, i mean, congressman markey and i have had some discussions about it, i've been briefed locally. the city of arlington, texas, has a license to operate a drone. but since they're near dfw international airport, the license is so restrictive that it's literally being flown in a field near lake arlington. they don't have the ability yet to even do traffic surveillance up and down interstate 30 or interstate 20. so i see both sides of it. i see, i see a real law enforcement capability, young, going after traffic violaters and drug dealers and that, you know, and things like that. but on the other hand, too, i can see real privacy issues that need to be addressed. what's so ironic about the drones is that the city of arlington, the police department
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have a license, but it's so restrictive they basically can't use it. but i could go to a hobby store in arlington and buy a drone with almost no restrictions on what i use it for. you know? ii could fly it up and fly it over into my neighbor's backyard and fly around, you know, as long as i don't violate some public access at dfw airport, something like that. so drones have so much capability that we almost have to figure out a way to use them, but we're going to have to put reasonable restrictions so that we do protect people's privacy. >> host: joe barton is co-chair of the congressional privacy caucus, former chairman of the energy and commerce committee. he's been our guest on "the communicators" along with howard buskirk, associate managing editor of "communications daily."
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>> and you can watch a repeat of "the communicators" with congressman joe barton at 8 p.m. eastern here on c-span2. >> today live on c-span at 12:30 p.m. eastern, former u.s. ambassador to afghanistan ryan crocker will talk about afghanistan's future challenges and opportunities. the event is hosted by the carnegie endowment for international peace. watch it live on c-span and c-span.org. live today on c-span2, former defense secretary robert gates and former joint chiefs of staff admirable mike mullen talk about u.s. debt and its impact on national security. the center for strategic and international studies and other debt policy organizations host a constitution. that's at 12:30 p.m. eastern here on c-span2.